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Biotech Science

Should We Clone a Neanderthal? 990

Posted by kdawson
from the they-are-among-us dept.
SpaceAdmiral writes "Forget cloning a woolly mammothshould scientists clone a Neanderthal? Such a feat should be possible soon, although it raises a number of bioethics concerns, including where to draw the line between humans and other animals."
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Should We Clone a Neanderthal?

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  • Not animals (Score:2, Insightful)

    by anville (795714) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @01:54AM (#25882169)
    Neanderthals are considered to be part of the Homo Sapiens species. Wouldn't the concerns (and legalities) be the same as any human cloning project?
  • Re:NO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mesa MIke (1193721) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:07AM (#25882255) Homepage

    So, what's wrong with that?

  • by LuYu (519260) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:08AM (#25882265) Homepage Journal

    I am not the most religious of people, but does this not sound eerily like Revelation? The dead of past ages coming to life is quite creepy.

    On the ethics issue, who is going to raise this child? Real parents? Or a bunch of scientists? I would define a Neanderthal as a human, and that means the clone should have Rights like everyone else. What about people who are prejudiced? I mean, if racism is a tough thing to grow up with, what about speciism ? A bunch of kids teasing him for being an "ape" could not be fun.

  • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:19AM (#25882343)

    The electoral success of the Republican party in the US and the Conservatives in the UK show that it is better to be mean than smart.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:19AM (#25882347)

    Such a feat should be possible soon, although it raises a number of bioethics concerns, including where to draw the line between humans and other animals.
    that's assuming there really is a line to be drawn. The existence of 'intermediates', rather than forcing us to decide where to draw the line, should really make us question whether the category is as hard and fast as we think it is.

  • by zarthrag (650912) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:20AM (#25882353)
    Only worse, imagine the pro-life movement. Now imagine how they'd go on the crusade against cloning. The battle cry right now is to 'protect life'. Do you think for an instant that they won't try to get away with declaring "life starts at conception" along side of "anyone born in a tube isn't actually a person". Do you deny them? kill them? turn em into slaves? Does that ring a bell?
  • Re:NO (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:21AM (#25882363)

    He told us to "forget religious objections," but you can bet he didn't.

  • by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:24AM (#25882387)
    +1 uncomfortable truth. "that can't happen" is looking less and less appealing as an excuse: the science fiction of yesterday is becoming today's reality. The chances of human-like behaviour emerging from something we have never need to look at as human increases by the year. If its not AI, it will be geneticaly manipulated dogs. Or neanderthals. Or a head in a vat. Or someone who was once cryonically frozen.

    The law moves slowly and now is the time to define personhood. Now, before a computer asks for its rights, or a GM monkey gives a speech. As a society we must look deep into a mirror and decide whether and why each of us should have special rights.
  • Re:NO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Breakfast Pants (323698) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:24AM (#25882389) Journal

    Hey, it's slippery-slope man!

  • yay, racial slurs! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:25AM (#25882399)
    go back to 4chan douchebag
  • by baomike (143457) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:27AM (#25882419)

    You have a problem (if that is the right word) if one is cloned.
    But what of the problems with a clone that is defective but viable?

  • Quick question (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Hojima (1228978) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:58AM (#25882655)

    This question actually got me thinking: shouldn't we try cloning the geniuses of the past like Einstein and Newton? THAT would be an unquestionably good idea that can really settle the nature/nurture debate. Of course I'm no expert in the field so I don't know if that would be as feasible. Can some expert out there mention why this isn't being (to my knowledge) attempted?

  • Also not so. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @03:06AM (#25882731)
    First, correlation does not imply causation.

    Second, a statistic can be perfectly valid, but it still says absolutely nothing about a specific case. If it did, you would be able to reliably predict when a coin flip came up "heads".

    So you are simply wrong, yet again: I implied no such thing.
  • by SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @03:08AM (#25882737)

    But when the inevitable species war erupts, we can end racism.

    I wouldn't be so sure of that. Racism is often based on poor logic, so how would this change anything?

  • by NerveGas (168686) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @03:29AM (#25882851)

    Whatever happened to the wooly mammoth? Years ago, some company was going to try to clone one, and have an elephant carry it to birth. That would have been cool.

    A neanderthal, though? I dunno. There's just something creepy about cloning something to study... that can be embarrassed by the fact that it's being studied.

    On the upside, I have no doubt that he/she would make it big in fetish porn.

  • Re:Not animals (Score:2, Insightful)

    by resignator (670173) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @03:34AM (#25882881)
    Um, no. We belong to the same genus not species. Assuming that is what you meant, what exactly are the concerns of cloning a human?

    Most arguments I hear typically involve a religious appeal and we all know how well science and religion mix. Aside from that, I am not so sure any religion would be quick to embrace a living Neanderthal.

    The best argument I could think of against cloning a Neanderthal would be the concerns I have for it's health and happiness. We know very little of the culture, diet, needs, or temperament of Neanderthals. On the other hand, we do know what a good diet consists of and what generally makes humans happy. Our cultures are rather well studied too. A cloned human living a healthy and happy life doesn't seem far fetched to me. I am not so sure about the Neanderthal.

    None of this means I would rush out and clone humans or Neanderthals but I will say the concerns are not the same.
  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Warll (1211492) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @03:36AM (#25882895) Homepage
    Put me in a room with a bear, repeat a hundred times and see who comes out on top. Doesn't mean the bear is smarter.
  • Re:Quick question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hojima (1228978) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @03:43AM (#25882931)

    Nope, his brain was most likely removed without permission: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein's_brain [wikipedia.org]

    Anyways cloning humans isn't against human rights or unethical. Would you debate your existence if someone told you that you were cloned? What if humanity lost its ability to naturally procreate? Would it suddenly change to not being against God's will? Humans play God every day when we take or prolong life, and I say if it's for the better of humanity, I'm sure God would be cool with it.

  • Re:What line? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dokebi (624663) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @03:55AM (#25882995)

    Neanderthals were social, tool making beings. A solitary human being, raised in isolation, is not more more capable than a Neanderthal. This same human being will also be very maladjusted and unhappy, and thus not display "normal" behavior.

    So, we must be fully ready to accept this thing as a sentient being, or not at all. Simply assuming that it could be kept locked up in a zoo or like a mental patient will reflect poorly.

    And don't get me started on the obvious religious objections this project would face.

  • Re:Quick question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Count Fenring (669457) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @04:22AM (#25883145) Homepage Journal

    Except that a cloned individual is only genetically identical.

    That'll be a Catch 22 if we can clone people and their memories, which isn't reasonably a thing to be expected.

  • by cowtamer (311087) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @04:44AM (#25883285) Journal

    This is the worst (potentially feasible) idea I've heard of.

    Even in a world where moral relativism is pushing the limits of outright folly, there are good reasons to not do such things:

    1) We'd be dealing with a human species. That means you'd essentially have a human on your hands, to raise like you'd raise any other kid. Except he'd be ugly, different, and WAY more difficult to handle than your average 2 year old.

    2) Someone will have to be responsible for this person for the rest of his life. If he's not at the same cognitive level as us, this will be perceived as a burden. If he IS as smart as us, then we'll have to answer for bringing him into a world where he is the ONLY representative of his species.

    3) We might have the unintended consequence of resurrecting ugly social movements/ideas like racism an phrenology. The "speciesm" we will be committing and legitimizing by the act of creating a human being for research will have spillovers into racist thought.

    4) We will have to deal with having created a human being for scientific research purposes. The ensuing debate about balancing research interests with human rights will NOT end with human rights getting the upper hand.

    5) For those of us who know there is a God, I don't think I have to speak of the hubris of doing such a thing or the possible consequences beyond what is outlined above.

    Next up: vat grown ninjas?

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fractoid (1076465) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @04:48AM (#25883313) Homepage
    Put a hundred of you and a hundred bears on an island and see who comes out on top. A larger world with more options means more opportunity for intelligence to provide an advantage.

    Chances are that the hundred of you would be working in packs with primitive weapons to wipe out the bears within a week.
  • Re:Not animals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Count Fenring (669457) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @04:49AM (#25883317) Homepage Journal

    Very good point. To take it a little farther:

    Cloning is not magical powers. The clone will be born as a baby, grow up to adulthood over time. Any neanderthal culture is long gone; it would have to be raised either as an animal or a human being. Assuming that we're not being monsters here (not the only possibility, but the one I'm going to go with), let's assume that we want the neanderthal to do well, and to be treated according to its mental ability.

    So we're left with a few possibilities.

    Case 1: It has sub-human intellect to the point where it is satisfied/only capable of the animal level of mental function. This is the easy one; we can treat it like a zoo animal, with only the moral considerations usually involved with such. Physical evidence says this is pretty unlikely, but we don't really know.

    Case 2:It's capable of the lower levels of human functionality. Say, somewhere between Forest Gump and a chimpanzee. Well, in this case, we have an intelligent being, who is a ward of the state, and who is unlike any other being on earth. It has no family, and potentially no human rights. It's entirely subject to the whims of its creators, or to the vagaries of laws that don't cover it. And who is it going to play with as a child? What is it going to do when it's older? How much experimentation is legally and morally allowable? What if it's below the legal threshold of mental function for consent, but is undeniably intelligent?

    So, huge minefield there. Awesome.

    Case 3: The Neanderthal is as smart as we are.

    Fuck. We have all the problems of Case 2, and more. We just made a person that is, by definition, part of the world's smallest and loneliest minority. He or she will never be able to live a remotely normal or fulfilling life. Furthermore, he's coming into the world with ready-made enemies in those opposed to cloning.

    I'm genuinely conflicted about this. If someone went ahead and cloned a neanderthal, I would want to talk to him/her more than anything else in the world. Talking to an intelligent being that's not human... that would be an amazing thing.

    But seriously... I can't see any way that this could really be morally ok.

  • Re:Incorrect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fractoid (1076465) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:07AM (#25883433) Homepage
    I read a great quote on here a while ago. Something along the lines of "life only began once on this planet, and we're all just little bits of it".
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:18AM (#25883517) Homepage Journal

    If it's redundancies and backups then there's a reason for it being there, and you'll miss it when you need it.

    The brain is an expensive thing, and if it was possible to do the same job with a smaller and cheaper one we'd presumably have evolved that way.

  • by mentaldingo (967181) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:33AM (#25883611) Homepage
    Immunities are inherited from the mother while in the womb.
  • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by catxk (1086945) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:52AM (#25883727)
    Why is this not modded insightful? The post is spot on. We do what we can with being able to do it as the only justification. This attitude is fundamental to the progress of the human civilization.
  • There is no line (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrSkwid (118965) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:56AM (#25883753) Homepage Journal

    We are all animals. It's like saying where do we draw the line between snails and other animals. Makes no sense (except that they are not snails!)

  • Case 4 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:56AM (#25883759)
    The Neanderthal is considerably smarter than we are.

    (Unlikely but possible.)

    Resolution: It could be smarter than a human, but is extremely unlikely to be smarter than all humans. A team of people could take it down if necessary.
  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rent (66355) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @06:35AM (#25883983) Homepage

    If you were smarter then you would not go in to a room with a bear

  • Re:Yes (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @06:43AM (#25884023)

    "Put me in a room with a bear"

    Put him in a bar with a broom.

  • Re:What line? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @06:46AM (#25884047)

    Just imagine where we would be if religion would've been banned some 8-900 years ago...

    Well, since the downsides of religions are usually connected with the attempts to suppress other religions, I'd say we would have gotten all the downsides and none of the upsides and thus would be worse off than now.

  • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @06:50AM (#25884071) Journal

    Actually, look at the evidence we have for Neanderthals. They

    - built tools to build other tools with. Chimps build improvised tools for the moment, then discard them. Building a hammer, so you can build an axe with it, is a human trait and implies quite a bit of intelligence.

    - apparently had at least some level of work specialization and that would imply some form of commerce. At least as in, "me give you dead antelope, if you make me big strong stone spear." Again, that's not something chimps do. (Though Bonobos seem to have figured out stuff like "I'll give you two bananas for sex.")

    - they built crude musical instruments (but then it took H. Sapiens a long time to make any better ones too.)

    - they seem to have had (primitive) ceremonial burial, which in turn implies _some_ concept of afterlife or at least remorse. That's a bit of abstract concept there. You don't see a cat giving her dead kitten an elaborate burial.

    - they decorated themselves with crude "jewellery" and paints (i.e., basically cosmetics). Again, it seems to suggest some kind of society and the brain power where that kind of thing matters. E.g., the concept of a social status. You don't even bother carrying, say, a necklace of sabertooth teeth unless that tells the others something about you martial prowess and that matters somehow. Or maybe if you have some kind of a mythology where that invokes the power of that tiger, but that's even more complex thinking.

    - they skinned animals and made primitive clothes and shelters. (Well, primitive by our standards, but quite ahead of just digging a burrow like an animal.)

    - apparently some figured out how to use coal, where it was easily accessible. (Homo Sapiens never really bothered too much with it until the industrial age.)

    Etc.

    I'd say that's clearly ahead of animal level. I'd say it's at the very least Forest Gump level.

  • Cloning ethics (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @06:59AM (#25884117)

    A Bishop from the catolic church is against this. I dont think religious people should have anything to say in this matter. The ethics about this cloning should be handled by the scientists or atheists. History have shown that religion is the greatest killer on this planet. So when some catholic (A believer in the teachings of Cathol:) wants to prevent this, I think he is out of line. He should only address issues regarding his own religion, and only be allowed to talk religious matters to people over 18.

  • by Uberbah (647458) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:36AM (#25884301)

    Just make it a reality TV show, you'll have plenty of volunteers.

  • Re:Evolution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alarindris (1253418) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:22AM (#25884515)

    1. Go extinct.
    2. Get cloned by future version of species.
    3. ???
    4. Profit!!

    Fixed that for ya :P

  • Re:Quick question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MrNaz (730548) * on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:55AM (#25884701) Homepage

    Wouldn't work.

    Geniuses are more the product of their upbringing and social circumstances during their development as a human being and less the product of some genetic accident.

    Yes, that means that the "average" human could, with the right parenting, circumstances and/or education (as distinct from schooling, which what passes off as education these days), be a genius.

  • Re:Not animals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @09:33AM (#25885001) Journal

    Your post is very interesting, and I like it and agree with almost all your points except

    He or she will never be able to live a remotely normal or fulfilling life.

    I am sure that this person, who is different physically in some ways from the average person, can have a fulfilling and happy life. Even now we have people that are much more disfigured than a neanderthal would be (and who says that with normal shaving and toilette he/she wouldn't in fact look attractive, what with being tall and extremely muscular), and they still have happy and fulfilling lives, for the most part.

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NiteShaed (315799) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @09:44AM (#25885103)

    There's no way they were smarter and bigger then us and still managed to be defeated by us. So either they faced a danger we didn't, or they weren't as smart as us.

    Or they just didn't breed as quickly as we do, or were for some reason less agressive. I'm bigger and smarter than an africanized bee, but I don't necessarily want to run up to one of their hives and start kicking it.

    Being bigger and smarter doesn't guarantee success, it just gives a potential advantage.

  • by thebheffect (1409105) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:01AM (#25885283)
    You could make a very good argument that the atomic bomb created a much more stable post-WWII political atmosphere. How many people would have died in a US-USSR showdown?
  • by Tisha_AH (600987) <Tisha.Hayes@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:37AM (#25885717) Journal

    The entire argument against cloning is coming from well-meaning, do-gooders who for the most part, lack the capacity to understand the implications of cloning. There seems to be this thought that a cloned individual would be lacking in some capacity or held up as a carnival sideshow.

    You may recall that back in 1978 the same furor erupted over the idea of a test-tube-baby. Louise Brown was raised as a normal child, had a normal upbringing and has her own family now. I would bet that if you asked her what her opinion is on being a test-tube-baby, she would look you in the eye and wonder how your head is screwed on.

    Maybe the fears really revolve around our definition of what is intelligence and the seat of the soul. Intellect, development and the human condition are easy to define. The theocratic's will argue on the state of the soul (an intangible as we know it). To put the brakes on bringing a clone to life because of our fear that they would not have a soul is in the land of isty-misty bogeyman stories.

    Cloning, even from an intact cell, should not raise such a visceral reaction, unless there is some belief that this will "steal" a soul from heaven or hell. Cloning of the long dead (even from pieces of DNA re-assembled in a laboratory process) is no different from a theological standpoint.

    We are not going to create a "neanderthal park" where people will come and gawk at the nearly human. But we do need to define what is an intelligent being (dolphins, apes, neanderthal's, etc...) before some intelligence comes to our planet and decides that we are amongst the least intelligent on our own planet.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psmylie (169236) * on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:46AM (#25885845) Homepage
    The problem with that is the fact that calling black people "monkeys" is something that bigots have been doing for a good few generations. It's slightly different, don't you think?

    There's no pre-existing racial slur to calling a white person a monkey, therefore it is safe to assume that the white person in question actually resembles a monkey. Calling a black person a monkey... well, maybe you mean he resembles a monkey, and maybe you are using a racial slur.

    Also, a few idiots blaming the wrong people and threatening/committing violence does not equal "the Left". It equals a few idiots.

    If you believe that a few nutballs represents the entire Left, then you have to believe that every idiot who does reprehensible things on the Right actually represents everyone on the Right.

    I agree, though, the rules should apply to everyone. Everyone deserves to be treated with basic respect, in my opinion.

  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Weedlekin (836313) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:50AM (#25885883)

    "As such, a large part of it may have simply been food shortages"

    Even without food shortages, the fact that we could support four times as many people from the same resources would mean that we'd rapidly end up out-competing them through sheer weight of numbers.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nevyn (5505) * on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @11:03AM (#25886035) Homepage Journal

    As an example, behold the behavior of leftist and activist Gays in California over the Prop 8 dispute. Despite the fact that Mormons make up less than 3% of the CA voting bloc that voted Prop 8 in, and Blacks and Latinos voted FOR Prop 8 in overwhelming numbers, the gays are ONLY targeting the Mormons.

    The Mormon church provided millions of dollars to help swing the vote, which is generally what "the gays" are upset about ... although "targeting" is a unique way of putting it. Probably reading some right wing news sources, like the new york times, would help you out.

    They are threatening to burn down churches, have sent white powder-filled envelopes to LDS headquarters, and have already attacked and beaten both Mormons, and elderly people.

    But then this goes way past half-truths and misinformation ... stop listening to Fox News, it makes you look like an idiot.

  • by MindKata (957167) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @11:06AM (#25886077) Journal
    "I thought Neanderthals actually had *bigger* brains than we do."

    An Elephant has a much larger brain than a human. That doesn't make Elephants more intelligent than humans.
    e.g. http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Elephant-intelligence [nationmaster.com]

    ... unless that is, Elephants are so intelligent, that they can hide their intelligence from us! :)
  • Not the issue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nerdposeur (910128) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @11:15AM (#25886199) Journal

    The entire argument against cloning is coming from well-meaning, do-gooders who for the most part, lack the capacity to understand the implications of cloning. There seems to be this thought that a cloned individual would be lacking in some capacity or held up as a carnival sideshow.

    I oppose cloning for none of the reasons you state. Biologically, a clone is the same as a twin. Theologically, twins have souls, and so would clones. They're just people whose genes happen to match someone else's.

    My problem with cloning rests on two things:

    • Primarily, the trial-and-error creation of human embryos, destroying those that aren't wanted
    • Secondarily, the potential for people/governments to start "manufacturing" people to suit their desires, making us view fellow humans more like commodities

    Neither of these are bogeyman ideas. The first reflects a definition of "human life" that you may not share, but for which there are valid arguments.

    The second reflects the way oppressive governments already view people, but makes it worse. If you haven't read "Brave New World" with its descriptions of people bred with jobs in mind, including being slightly brain-damaged before birth so they'd be content with dumb jobs, you should. Ask yourself what guys like Kim Jong-il would do with that ability.

  • Re:Quick question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sribe (304414) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @11:21AM (#25886287)

    Actually, it is unethical--because of the flaws in the process & results. I'm guessing that you have no idea how many deformed & crippled sheep they get before they get a single "good" clone--or how the "good" clone ages much more rapidly than a naturally born sheep. If the process were perfected, then there would be plenty of room for debate about ethics, but as the process stands now, it would highly unethical to clone a person.

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yogs (592322) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @11:24AM (#25886343)

    Aha, sure.

    Intelligence is one thing, relevant skills is another.

    When was the last time you hunted in pack on foot, or fashioned, thrust, or threw a spear? What about starting a fire without a match? There's more than a bit of learning and physical conditioning necessary to be a successful "primitive".

    These things time to develop, and it doesn't sound like the life expectancy on bear island is long enough.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ambitwistor (1041236) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @11:28AM (#25886401)

    Much of our surgical tech. CAME from those experiments.

    Hardly. Almost all of the Nazi medical experiments were surgically useless. AFAIK, they didn't invent any new surgical techniques. They did learn a few things about how long humans can survive under extreme conditions, but that's about it, and it didn't even lead to much in the way of new treatments. I think hypothermia may have been an exception. Most of their experimentation was just sadism of little medical or scientific value, and a lot of it was biased to "prove" various Nazi racial theories.

    Our knowledge of a number of diseases certainly came from there.

    Again, not really. They experimented with drugs/cures for various diseases. They didn't discover any new diseases, didn't discover anything about how the diseases work inside the body, and as far as I know, didn't lead to cures for any major disease.

  • by bluntman2008 (1355349) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @12:07PM (#25886975)

    Does the ability to survive on 22.5% less food matter to survival?

    Yes.

  • Re:Quick question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cyberchondriac (456626) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @01:03PM (#25887789) Journal

    Wouldn't work.

    Geniuses are more the product of their upbringing and social circumstances during their development as a human being and less the product of some genetic accident.

    Yes, that means that the "average" human could, with the right parenting, circumstances and/or education (as distinct from schooling, which what passes off as education these days), be a genius.

    What was so unique about Einstein's upbringing? He basically drove himself. It seems more genetic than environment to me, though I'm sure both play a role.
    You can foster a learning environment where people gain book smarts and value wisdom, but intelligence itself (the ability to learn, solve problems, and recognize patterns)is an internal value, IMO.

    Anyway, I'd love to see a "real" Neanderthal. Hey, maybe they could blend the DNA to make it an "Einstein Neanderthal"!

  • by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope@nOspAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @01:37PM (#25888299) Homepage Journal

    There's only 2 potential issues I can think of, both of which are predicated on it being widespread. A few cloned individuals wouldn't hamper a society, but were it to be become reasonably widespread, it could become a status symbol, like a pure-bred dog.

    After this, we'd lose diversity. By its very nature, cloning introduces a non-genetically new breeder to the gene pool. It'll be like the royal family all over again. The second issue, is that if cloning became widespread, human evolution would stop (again, lack of diversity).

    The largest difference between cloning and test tube babies, would again, be original genetic source material.

    These implications may seem sci-fi, but we are talking about cloning;)

    (Again, as a caveat, if cloning were as widespread as "test tube babies" are now, I think you're correct in your assessment)

  • Re:Yes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by YouWantFriesWithThat (1123591) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:11PM (#25888863)
    you raise interesting points, but one comment:
    when hunting with home-made tools it is generally inadvisable to throw a spear. only one shot, less power applied to penetration, chance of damaging, etc. a spear is very good at extending reach, allowing additional strength be applied after the initial strike, and pinning prey down until they bleed out or are attacked by your companions. if i was hunting for survival i would keep a firm grip on the spear, personally.
  • by thebheffect (1409105) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @03:38PM (#25890081)
    Seeing as how the Cold War passed and entered us into an age of disarmament, I'd say I'd choose 'discomfort' over a massive war.
  • Re:Yes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Glimmerdark (1229958) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @04:42PM (#25891021)
    "Modern humans were more vulnerable to the cold than Neanderthals and developed these tools as far back as 90,000 years ago to cope with cooler parts of Africa, before the peak of the ice age." from your linked article on the clothing. 'designed for the ice age' might have been a bit of an incorrect statement- but they were certainly more at home in colder climates, with a much more solid trunk and thicker limbs. this likely made them significantly stronger than modern man, and likely able to absorb more punishment as well. however, on the downside- they were likely no where near as swift as modern man, and burned huge amounts of energy while active. this would require them to consume more food, and be less able to travel the ranges required to find that food. all of this is at least marginally speculation, and going into the ideas of clothing and interbreeding stretches even further into the realm of the unknown. cloning certainly wouldn't tell us what caused the extinction, but it likely would give us a much clearer picture of what the species was like.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @04:50PM (#25891139)

    One issue with the "life begins at conception" is fraternal twins. In that case, the fertilized egg (which would be a "life") splits in two. Now, does the original "life" get split also, or does it migrate to one of the eggs and a new "life" get assigned to the other egg? In this case, life can refer to person hood, having a "soul", etc.

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jc42 (318812) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:20PM (#25893905) Homepage Journal

    Well, maybe. The main assumption was a fairly standard one: The human size difference between males and females is at least partly due to "sexual selection". That is, human females like big males and human males like small females. This seems to be somewhat of a universal among not just humans, but primates in general. And it probably came about because males are "expendable" and thus function as the primary defenders of a social group of primates. It matters if you lose females, but it matters less if you lose a few males. So males should be big and should hang out on the group's periphery, to be more effective defenders. This is so common in primates that the default assumption about an unknown primate species is that it follows this pattern. But couples in which the female is bigger do occur among humans, so we can't rely on it as any sort of universal rule; it's just a statistical preference.

    Male preference for breast size is highly variable in humans (and weak or nonexistent in other primates), so we probably shouldn't make guesses about that, other than that permanently enlarged female breasts are a sexual dimorphism in humans. (And I do know several very attractive women with small breasts. ;-)

    Another problem with the hypothesis that the Cro Magnons wiped out the Neanderthals and didn't interbreed with them is that we really don't know anything about Neanderthal genes. Some scientists have point out that it's quite possible that some number of Neanderthal genes spread to Africa well before the Cro-Magnon invasion, and those genes are part of what we consider basic human (vs. chimp or gorilla) genes. We have no way of disproving this at present. Comparing fossil Neanderthal DNA with modern African DNA would do nothing to debunk this hypothesis.

    Basically, the whole topic is something that we know little about, and the chances of actually learning much more are slight. Of course, this has to be true for some remote ancestors. If we do manage to get the data to show that the Neanderthals either were or were not among our ancestors, the problem would just move to the next-oldest extinct group of hominids. So the problem will always be with us.

    Probably one of the reasons for the interest in the Neanderthals is that most of the known Neanderthal "features" do turn up in modern Europeans at a low rate. This doesn't prove anything, because those features could just be adaptations to conditions in Europe over the past 40,000 years; those features evolved in the Cro Magnons' descendants for the same reasons they evolved in Neanderthals. The existence of such a feature set is "interesting", and is most easily explained by interbreeding. But it doesn't really prove anything.

  • by my_left_nut (1161359) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:27PM (#25893977)
    Not so fast. We're anything *but* disarmed. Last I looked we still have loads of deployed nuclear weapons pointing at each other, and are now entering an age of increased geopolitical instability and acute resource shortages. Oil, fresh water, metals... all are going to be in short supply. This is not the time to become complacent and think we've dodged the nuclear bullet as the varying large superpowers and superpower wannabes try to out-dick each other for what's left of an ever-decreasing pie.
  • by Pharmboy (216950) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:43PM (#25894117) Journal

    How many people would have died in a US-USSR showdown?

    Which one, Korea, Vietnam or to a lesser degree, Afghanistan in the 1980s? Nukes certainly did provide some stability of sorts, but US/USSR relations haven't been bloodless. We just killed each other by proxy.

"Look! There! Evil!.. pure and simple, total evil from the Eighth Dimension!" -- Buckaroo Banzai

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